A great article appeared in today’s Wall Street Journal written by Anna Wiled Mathews. This highlights the unintended consequences of a healthcare system that is spinning out of control. Employers continue to raise deductibles and coinsurance in order to offset the increases in premium, thus forcing doctors and hospitals to chase more out-of-pocket dollars. Doctor today are not only healthcare providers but financial service companies. Their receivables are at record highs today. It used to be that providers only had to work with insurance companies to collect the fees for their services. Today, they are not only working with the insurance companies to collect they are having to collect a record amount from the patient.
You can’t blame the physicians for saying “enough.” They went to medical school to learn how to provide excellent healthcare, not to chase receivables. As Americans struggle with the increasing costs of healthcare, we will see a more severe price increase in health costs over the next few years. As doctors sell their practices to health systems and take themselves out of the billing nightmare, we are going to create another pricing issue. We will be left with mega systems controlling the pricing structure of healthcare with very little ability to control the pricing structure. With the consolidation of physician practices with facilities, there is worry that we will see an increase in pricing. As Karen Ignagni, CEO of AHIP, stated in the article, "We've always been concerned about combinations that are being done to increase prices." William F. Jessee, CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, said he expected to see "more physicians selling out to hospitals."